ADD versus ADHD: What are the fundamental differences?

ADHD forgetful

Last Updated December 20th, 2021

Understanding attention deficit disorders

Attention-related disorders do exist. Often, people might brush it off under the rug in the notion that it is ok for this disorder to occur. Children or adults who have this condition, are always being judged or criticized. This condition is treatable and it is important that people are aware of this. There is a need for a strong support system for people with this condition. Discover certain tips you can use or even design with the help of this article.

What is ADHD?

ADHD stands for “attention deficit hyperactive disorder”. This is a disorder solely based on attention lacking but accompanied with a hyperactive, impulsive or unrepressed behavioral patterns. Here, an individual has trouble focusing on a single task for a certain time period.

What is ADD?

ADD childADD stands for Attention Deficit Disorder. It is a type of ADHD predominantly because of a lack of attention.


  • On a global level, the prevalence of ADHD is 5.29% and 7.1% in children and adolescents, respectively.
  • Adults show a 3.4% prevalence rate globally.
  • In the United States, the prevalence of ADD increased abruptly to 43% between the years 2003 to 2011.

Facts on ADD

  • People with this disorder respond very slow or in a sluggish manner
  • A type of ADHD mainly because of inadequate attention problems
  • Occurrence in males to females at a ratio of 2:1

Facts on ADHD

  • Occurrence in males to females at a ratio of 4:1
  • People with this condition respond hyperactively or without any thinking.
  • A general terminology that is a blend of poor attention, hyperactivity, and poor impulse control

What are the types of ADHD?

There are three types of ADHD:


  • The common traits include forgetfulness, disorganization, and lack of focus. That is why this is also called attention deficit disorder (ADD)).
  • There are no tendencies of being hyperactive or impulsive


  • The common traits are hyperactivity and impulsivity


  • This condition is a mixture of inattention, hyperactive and impulsive traits.

ADHD hyperactiveIt is often misconstrued that anyone who has ADHD is hyperactive. It is false because a person with ADHD solely by lack of attention will obviously have ADD and not be hyperactive. People with ADD will often have problems with being organized and have forgetfulness on a regular basis.

People with ADD can focus especially if a topic is interesting to them. They focus on the topic like a horse’s eye blinkers. ADD individuals find it hard to focus on regular tasks like laundry, doing homework, or reading office memos.

What are the symptoms of ADHD?

The symptoms of ADHD are mainly focusing on the symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity and impulsive behaviors.

Look for the following traits of inattention

Inattention, or trouble focusing, is one symptom of ADHD. A doctor may diagnose a child as inattentive if the child:

  • The patient is easily distracted.
  • The patient becomes forgetful, even with respect to daily or regular chores.
  • The person has trouble focusing on home works, school-related activities and often tends to make silly mistakes.
  • The patient turns a blind eye when someone is speaking to them directly.
  • The patient does not obey the instructions.
  • They do not complete schoolwork or chores.
  • Such people find problems with the organization.
  • They shun and even skip tasks that require thinking for long periods.
  • ADHD individuals tend to be irresponsible and lose vital materials that are needed for tasks, and activities.

Observe the following traits of hyperactivity and impulsivity

  • ADHD forgetful Most of the time, the person appears to be in the “spur of the moment” phase.
  • The disorganized way of approaching any subject or task or matter.
  • Ineffective usage of time or in other words the person does not know to prioritize or distribute the time devotion for a series of tasks accordingly.
  • Adults with ADHD are often extremely critical of themselves leading towards low self-esteem.
  • There is a lack of motivation to carry out any task.
  • Adults also show regular tendencies of procrastination along with poor organizational skills.
  • People with ADHD tendencies often tend to have relationship problems as their tendencies will seem to be insensitive, irresponsible, or uncaring.
  • They might either have sleep problems or because of many elements pushing them to focus, they might experience tiredness.
  • An ADHD individual tends to talk too much and does not wait for his turn to weigh in his views. He does not even let others finish their share of thoughts.
  • While sitting, the person tends to wriggle the body from side to side, taps his hands or feet or tends to fidget with anything that he can get a hold of.
  • He gets up from a seat suddenly when it is actually unnecessary to do so.
  • Runs around or climbs in weird situations
  • Such people can not be a part of any leisure activities
  • They out an answer before someone finishes asking a question
  • Constantly intervenes others while speaking

You already know that inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity prime symptoms for an ADHD diagnosis. Along with this, the child or adult must meet the following criteria to be diagnosed with ADHD:

  • The onset of such symptoms, begin before the age of 12.
  • The symptoms clearly interfere with their functioning at school, work, or in social situations.
  • These symptoms can also arise due to other conditions like mood or anxiety disorders.

What factors trigger ADHD?

ADHD child There is no specific or main trigger for ADHD. But the following categories of people might be more prone to ADHD than others

  • Genes
  • Those who smoke cigarettes, consume alcohol, or take drugs during pregnancy tend to have kids with ADHD.
  • Fetus which is exposed to environmental toxins
  • Exposure to lethal environmental toxins like lead, etc., from a young age
  • Low birth weight
  • Those who have brain injuries

You must also know that ADHD is more common in males than in females. ADHD in females is more associated with inattention.

What are the treatment and therapeutic options for ADD and ADHD?

There is no cure for ADHD but there are a wide variety of treatment options available to minimize the symptoms and even improve the thinking or behavioral patterns.

Medications for ADHD disorders

  • Medications tend to decrease the hyperactivity and impulsivity but also improve their ability to focus, work, and learn. The doctor will optimize the right dosage for an individual, closely observe the patient and then prescribes the right dosage.
  • There are medications called the stimulants. These medications stimulate brain chemicals like dopamine and norepinephrine which are solely involved in thinking and attention.
  • Under medical supervision, stimulant medications are considered safe. However, there are risks and side effects, especially when misused or taken in excess of the prescribed dose. For example, stimulants can raise blood pressure and heart rate and increase anxiety.
  • Stimulants are completely safe. They may cause side effects such as a surge in blood pressure, seizures, heart diseases, kidney disease, anxiety disorder, etc.

If you observe any of the following symptoms, consult a doctor at the earliest:

  • Low appetite
  • Problems related to sleep
  • Tremors
  • Personality changes
  • Elevated levels of anxiety and irritability
  • Stomach pains
  • Headaches

There is another class of ADHD medications that are non-stimulants. They take longer to react. They also improve focus, attention, and impulsivity. The doctor might suggest these non-stimulants either alone, or along with a stimulant to enhance the effect on countering ADHD. Such medications are not approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of ADHD.

Another type of medication is antidepressants. They help treat ADHD symptoms along with anxiety disorder, depression or other mood-related disorders and also are very helpful if the patient has bothering side effects from stimulants.


The treatment of ADHD is done psychologically. Behavioral therapy is preferable as it aims for changing an individuals behavior. This will involve practical help. This therapy deals with activities such as organizing tasks or completing schoolwork or working through emotionally difficult events. Behavioral therapy teaches you how to:

  • Monitor your own behavior
  • Praise or reward yourself for acting in a desired way like controlling anger or thinking before acting.

Parents, teachers, and family members also can give positive or negative feedback for certain good behaviors. They all can help in setting clear rules, chore lists, and include other structured routines to help a person control his or her behavior.

Therapists will also teach children certain social skills like how to wait for their turn, share toys, ask for help, or respond to teasing, learning to read facial expressions, the tone of voice in others, and how to respond appropriately, etc.

Cognitive behavioral therapy – involves mindfulness techniques or meditation. It teaches a person on being aware and accepting of one’s own thoughts and feelings. These techniques enhance focus and concentration. Even the family members will be counseled so that the family members, the spouse or siblings can handle the ADHD traits of a patient in a better way.

ADHD adultParents will also be trained for behavioral management especially on how they can encourage and reward good behavior in a child. Parents are taught the importance of giving immediate and positive feedback for behaviors they want to encourage and ignore or redirect behaviors that they want to discourage.

It is important to create support groups with other parents or families in similar situations. This brings in a sense of security to relate to each other’s problems. This helps them to cope and manage such problems. Such groups often meet regularly to share their frustrations and successes, exchange information about recommended specialists, and to discuss with experts.

How can you teach your child, and an adult to be organized?

Here are some tips to teach your child on certain organizational skills.

  • Set up a routine plan from wake-up time to bedtime. Follow every schedule in the plan every day. The plan must include homework, indoor activities and outdoor play. You can stick the schedule up on the refrigerator or on a bulletin board. I.nclude the changes in advance.
  • Teach the kid to organize his everyday items like keeping things in their respective place (clothes, toys, backpacks, shoes, etc).
  • Include notebook and homework organizers. Organize the school material, study table, and school-related
  • Emphasize the importance of writing important things or assignments or tasks. Train your child to bring the necessary books or material home to perform these tasks.
  • Children with ADHD need constant monitoring and instructions that they can comprehend and follow.

A professional therapist will help, an adult with ADHD towards being more organized. Here are certain tools used by the therapist:

  • Maintain a routine and strictly stick to the schedule of tasks.
  • Make a list of tasks or activities.
  • Use a calendar, and assign the schedule of events accordingly.
  • The therapist might also use reminder notes.
  • Arrangements for a special place for keys, bills, and paperwork must be made.
  • The therapist will help in breaking down large tasks into more manageable, smaller ones to make them more accomplishing.

The final outcome

ADHD is a mental disorder based on inattention, hyperactivity and impulsive behaviors. There is no single trigger but the environment and family style of living will impact anyone. There are medications available to this (stimulants, non-stimulants, and anti-depressants) but they must only be taken under a doctor’s supervision. Along with this, there are psychological routes to improve good behavioral patterns. Don’t isolate or criticize or undermine anyone with ADHD. You need to understand and be encouraging to the patient. Teach people with ADHD to be supportive of others as well.


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